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What effect does technology in schools have on children’s performance?

Technology now plays a large part in our children’s lives. Even if you restrict time on tablets, computers, games consoles and mobile devices in the home, there is a good chance a lot of work will now be done on a tablet device. What many parents want to know is what sort of effect this has on their children.


Recent studies now show that there are tablet computers in 70% of schools[1]however there are no clear examples yet of the benefits. Some schools have an option of using tablet devices in class, however these stay in the classroom and are shared between a couple of students at a time. Some schools however have supplied one tablet per student, either supplied free by the school or leased to the parents. These devices are to be used in classroom but also at home, for homework, and for parents to utilise to find out more information.

What parents think

Parents largely agree that there were many benefits of having tablets for education when surveyed recently by Data Label. They found that technology brings numerous advantages such as the latest software programs, online information and engagement, as well as making education more intriguing and absorbing for youngsters who have grown up with access to this sort of technology. The survey showed that 88% of parents felt that technology available for students has pushed them forward to learn and take full advantage of their education.

What the experts say

Research into the effects of technology in schools is very fragmented. So far there haven’t been any substantial studies, according to Sara Hennessy, Reader in Teacher Development and Pedagogical Innovation University of Cambridge[2], schools don’t seem to be fully utilising the devices they have: “Obstacles to learning with tablets include limited content availability and interactivity, wireless infrastructure and professional development opportunities. In my experience, the latter are paramount. It’s quite obvious that simply introducing new technology doesn’t change pedagogy, yet it’s astonishing how many edtech initiatives – and policymakers globally – still believe it will.”

She added:

“Research has clear implications for preparing educators to use new technologies purposefully. Tablets have an intuitive interface so informal approaches may work best, but also important are peer support, time, trial-and-error in a safe space or alongside fearless children, and self-paced learning. Teachers typically use a narrow set of m-learning pedagogies, in face-to-face settings.”

It is clear to see that tablet devices and other technologies will be playing a bigger role in the classrooms and that one day we may see the end of paper books and pen and paper; how effectively it’s used and implemented and what effect this has on children in the future is yet to be fully understood.